Baker on Sunday

Prior to Sunday's Cubs regular season finale against Colorado, Dusty Baker signed autographs for fans and tossed baseballs to many of those in attendance. He also tossed batting practice to his son, Darren.

Where Baker signs his next autograph as manager is uncertain, but it likely won't be in Chicago.

When the Cubs' season expired around 4 p.m. on Sunday, so did Baker's four-year contract with the organization. The Cubs finished with a 66-96 record and their fewest wins since 2000 under then manager Don Baylor.

"I wasn't taking it in," Baker told reporters after the game. "You do that after the season. You have a game to play. You're managing to win the ballgame, so that's what I was doing. You worry about whatever happens tomorrow."

That part appears imminent.

Baker undoubtedly does not expect to return after two straight losing seasons and three consecutive years of missing the post-season following his lone playoff appearance with the Cubs in 2003.

The Cubs beat the Rockies, 8-5, Sunday but still finished dead last for the first time since the aforementioned and abominable 2000 season.

"We had a good ballgame going on, so you don't have time to think about anything except what's going on in the ballgame," Baker said.

Baker was asked if he was relieved to know that a resolution regarding his future with the team was coming one way or another.

"Yeah," he said. "It ain't like we're walking on death row or something, but you're always relieved when you know your direction ... We'll find out soon."

Baker was also asked – better late than never – whether or not he would like to return as Cubs manager if the option was made available to him.

"I'll let you know tomorrow," Baker answered twice.

In his four seasons with the Cubs, Baker compiled a 322-326 record that excludes a 6-6 mark in the post-season. His inaugural Cubs team brought home the organization's first division title since 1989 and first playoff series victory since 1908, but lost the big one in the NLCS to eventual World Series Champion Florida.

"It's been a great experience," Baker said of his time with the Cubs. "I've learned a lot about myself, about people, and the importance of winning and losing. The town is starved for a winner. I just feel poorly that we almost gave it to them but didn't quite give it to them.

"No matter what happens, I'm pulling for them."

He met with players for what was likely the final time as Cubs manager.

"Some of the things I always say is ‘go home safely, travel safely, work hard this winter and come back in the best shape you've ever been in,'" Baker said. "‘Thank you for the effort and just learn from this experience.'"


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